The way you talk to yourself can build you up or tear you down. When your inner dialogue is harsh, it’s usually because you’re repeating things you heard from your parents or other authority figures when you were growing up.
If the criticism goes too far, it can discourage you from trying and take the joy out of your life.
Break free from the voices in your head. Take a look at a variety of techniques that prove that there’s more than one way to make peace with your inner critic.
Photo Credit: Melanie Kreutz
Making Friends with Your Inner Critic
Your inner critic will sound less scary if you remember that it wants to protect you from failure and other possible dangers.
Learn how to put it to work for you instead of against you:
1. Increase awareness. You may be so used to your inner critic that you hardly think about what it’s saying. Start changing your relationship by trying to understand what it wants to tell you.
2. Look back. What’s your first memory of your inner critic? Does it sound like a particular person from your past? There may be family issues or other matters that you need to heal before you can move on.
3. Focus on growth. Maybe your inner voice says you’re bad at math because you failed a test in the third grade. In reality, you’re not stuck in your past. Adopt a growth mindset that enables you to become whatever you want as long as you’re willing to put in the work to get there.
4. Aim higher. You may also find your inner critic easier to deal with if you keep a deeper purpose in mind. When you’re working for something bigger than yourself, you can accept your self-doubts without being overcome by them.
5. Try meditation. Many adults find that meditation helps them to make their self-talk more comforting and motivating. Let go of judgements and connect with your inner goodness.
Silencing Your Inner Critic
On the other hand, there are times when you just need a break. If your self-talk is making you anxious and depressed, you can find relief.
1. Seek distractions. Shift your attention elsewhere. Take a walk or read a book. Spend some time doing anything that you enjoy.
2. Distance yourself. Turn down the volume by imagining that your inner critic is speaking to someone else instead of you. Take any statement and replace the personal pronouns with a funny name.
3. Identify triggers. Give yourself advance warning. Figure out the situations where your inner critic is likely to appear. You may be sensitive about first dates or criticism from your boss.
4. List your strengths. If you’re tired of hearing about your weaknesses, remember your strengths. Make a list of the things you’re good at from baking bread to writing code.
5. Correct exaggerations. Your house won’t be condemned because you were too busy to vacuum for a few days. Keep things in perspective by ensuring that your self-talk is accurate.
6. Use affirmations. Repeating positive affirmations can give you a boost when you’re feeling down. Browse online for ideas or invent your own wording.
7. Remember your worth. Being tough on yourself erodes your self-esteem. Shore it back up by telling yourself that you deserve to be happy and successful.
8. Build support. While you need to value yourself, it helps to have others in your corner too. Surround yourself with family and friends who make you feel positive about yourself and your opportunities.
Take control of your self-talk and your future. Treat yourself with compassion and keep striving to reach your full potential.